The expression “on our bucket list” is not the best way to describe this trip for us. That expression is clever, and mildly humorous (in a dark way), but it links aspiration with expiration. Crossing the country by car was never, for me, a check-box thing to hurry up and do before I kick the bucket. I will simply say that this was something I always wanted to do. It’s on my life list and as such I expect it will add new items to the list.
If you have had something on your life list, something you’ve always wanted to do, then perhaps you can relate to the satisfaction and blessing we enjoy at this.
On September 18, 2013, a little map-geek 12-year-old boy—still inside this guy of 63 years—finally did what he dreamed of with marker pens on folded-paper highways. Eighteen days earlier we got in our car on the coast of California and drove across a beautiful landscape on a route longer than needed to allow for preferred sights. After 4322 miles, we stepped on the Atlantic coast in Maine. The adventure continues as we find our way home again over the next 31 days.
Some reflections on this will follow after a brief sketch of these past two interesting driving days to get here. Don’t skip this part. It includes a discussion of mermaids.
Paradox, NY was cold. We ran the heater a lot that morning. Almost completely alone in this campground, we navigated carefully over a pock-marked camp road out to the highway. The world visible through the windshield brightened and warmed. Just a short bridge crossing of Champlain, and Vermont said hello in its slopes and shades of green (hence the state’s name, if you think about it).
And there’s nothing quite like socially-conscious ice cream to sweeten the view. Ben and Jerry’s is based here in Waterbury, and their factory tour is an awareness-raising experience, complete with 60’s music playing in the gift shop, tie-dye shirts for sale, and enthusiastic tour guides. With every cone of this capitalism-done-leftward product you feel SO good about doing right on this planet, while enlarging the one you carry just above your belt.
A short hop into also-beautiful New Hampshire and we were very soon in Bethlehem where we found room at the inn. The Mulburn Inn is over 100 years old, one of the classic cottages for vacationers in years past. It has hosted Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant and Thomas Edison, among others. The place itself, and its owner, our wonderful hostess, gave new meaning to Bed and Breakfast for us, as both those B’s were out-of-sight fantastic at Mulburn.
I can remember only one thing about our breakfast companions the next morning at Mulburn Inn, other than that they were nice folks: They believe in mermaids. At the mention of mermaids-as-reality, all else in the area of my brain for remembering the B&B table conversation from that morning was erased. But I do know now that the TV documentary proved it, and the government has successfully suppressed the truth of it. Oh, and that they are ugly with sunken eyes and their DNA is compromised.
Referring here to mermaids, not the government.
Walking upstairs to get our bags, Nancy and I looked at each other at the first private moment and did that whisper-aghast thing, eyes widened. Mermaids!?
The day was warming and glorious, the highways were ours, route 2 in Maine bounded rurally to the east. We zigged along some other roads to cut down to Augusta, had riverside appetizers in Hallowell, and made our way to Blackwoods Campground, Acadia. Our site, A-71, is about a quarter mile walk through the forest to the Atlantic shore. We made it. 4322 miles.
Reflecting on this, the key word is grateful… that we have health and opportunity, the love of God and of each other, an employer who gives a sabbatical benefit (thanks, Intel), and that I enjoy dreaming and somehow finding a way to live out a few of them.
I like that we think deeply about the meaning of things, even the quirky observations in ordinary life, and that it’s such a deep satisfaction to reflect on this by writing. How can I do more of this? … See? I’m already working on my life list.
This trip is on my list—the list of stuff to do before I live more fully than I have before.